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Summer 2022 - 14 days Italy - Venice, Rome, Florence and Reggio Emilia help?

Summer 2022 - 14 days Italy - Venice, Rome, Florence and Reggio Emilia help?

Old Nov 15th, 2021, 05:30 PM
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Summer 2022 - 14 days Italy - Venice, Rome, Florence and Reggio Emilia help?

Hi! Thanks for reading and hoping the experts can weigh in on our planning as I'm already overwhelmed with choices!

The Basics:
Extended Family of 5
  • 1 senior (well traveled and has been all over Italy many times and is along for the ride)
  • 2 teens (boys well traveled and have been to Rome, Pompeii and Venice a few years back and will mostly be on their phones ha ha)
  • Married Couple - (wife has been to Florence, Rome, Venice and Pompeii over 20 years ago and LOVES Italy and husband has never been).
Arriving Venice (on a Sunday), Departing Rome (on a Saturday) in early July 2022
14 days total including arrival and departure dates. Flights in & out are both early afternoon. Scored lie flat seats on points so anticipate some sleep/rest on plane and may not be totally D.O.A.

For the most part, we are 'active' travelers who like to see things, explore/wander, experience local culture, markets (all kinds of markets), architecture, ruins, historical significant sights, eat things both foodie and basic (wine/beer, gelato, regional specialties, pasta, pizza, meat, cheese, local vegetables, soup/stews) and people watch. Not much into hiking, biking, lazing on a beach or living a slow pace of farm life reading books however, we'll take a few afternoons a little slow or if we find hotel has pool for some downtime. We are the "10 minute" museum go-ers and church lookers (exaggerated but we don't want / need to spend hours in museums or visit every church). We will want to go to the main ones such as to see Sistine Chapel, David, Duomo in Florence, etc. We also don't do a lot of guided tours as we enjoy going on our own and getting lost as part of the experience. However would consider a tour or two for certain experiences where you need it to get the most out of it (such as the Italian days food tours or other similar)? We aren't terribly interested in tons of nightlife or big modern cities (have enough of those stateside) though like a good pub or wine bar at night (for the adults).

The current thoughts on itinerary:
Since one of us has never been to Italy, we wanted to hit the Italy must dos (Venice, Rome). He also expressed interest seeing some coast/sea/water. Florence got on the list because kids haven't been there and I remember it as being one of my favorite cities and have wanted to also explore that area more. One of the teens is very into cars with Ferrari being one of his favorites so the Ferrari Museum (we think one in Modena) is a must do -- and Reggio Emilie area with Modena and Parma sounded fun for us food and wine lovers and for something different. We can rent a car if we need to as we are ok with foreign country driving and stick shift though preference would be not to.
  • Arrival Day Sun: Venice
  • Mon: Venice (either leave early evening as anticipate light later in summer or stay night another night and leave next day)
  • Tues: Venice -> Bologna
This section is the most I'm unsure about...
  • Wed - Fri: Bologna (base camp for Moderna, Parma, Ferrari Museum, foodie tours, Ravenna?)
  • Sat: Bologna -> Florence
  • Sun - Mon: Florence
  • Tues: Florence -> Rome
  • Wed - Fri : Rome
  • Sat: Depart Rome
Venice - ~1.5 - 2d
Bologna area - ~3.5d
Florence - ~2.5d
Rome - ~3 - 3.5d

Questions and Dilemmas: and I know we cannot do it all
  • Are Parma and Modena (including Ferrari) a day trip or multi-day trips? Ie..would we need 1 day for Ferrari tour and 1 day in Parma and 1 day in Modena for balsamic/cheese/meat/food tour? Or could we knock out both in same day? If multi day, would you choose Modena or Parma or both or somewhere else altogether?
  • Would you base camp in Bologna with the above parameters or would we be better off just spending an overnight in Modena for Ferrari and a food/balsamic/cheese/meat tour and go on to Florence? Skip Bologna altogether due to lack of time...
  • If we basecamp in Bologna, should we try also for Ravenna or instead spend more time exploring Bologna?
  • Or would you suggest we go to Florence and spoke/hub from there for just Ferrari / Modena activities? This would mean less 'packing' and lugging suitcases but more time on trains.
  • If we scrapped Bologna and just did the Ferrari/Modena on an overnight stopover from Venice, would you recommend we do any day trips from Florence (such as Pisa, Siena, Livorno or other quaint town)? Any food or winery tour/visits especially good?
  • Would having a car make any of these easier to get to and for less time?
  • Also, I'm a bit confused by the Enzo Ferrari Museum in Modena and the Maranello one. I read that one has a test track you can pay to drive on or do both? Which one has the track? Their website is confusing!
Thanks again for any and all suggestions/critiques/tweaks of itinerary...
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Old Nov 15th, 2021, 06:31 PM
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I don't know the answers to some of your questions but fwiw...

Having a 'base camp' is generally a good idea, especially with teens and children. You could choose Parma, Modena or Bologna. Florence is less than 40min from Bologna by train if you prefer to stay put a bit longer and are happy enough to pay the train fares there and back.

wrt to time in Ravenna vs Bologna, I'd just decide on the day. The mosaics of Ravenna are stunning (if you like mosaics) but the kids may be less impressed.

If you scrap Bologna and spend more time in Florence, then yes, a day trip to Siena or Lucca would be great. With kids, I'd choose Lucca myself, where you can hire bikes and cycle around the walls and along the river, climb towers, etc.

I don't think a car would help and may well hinder.

It may well be a good thing to split up and do things separately where that suits (guess you know that but some groups seem to be glued at the hip). The longer you stay in each place the easier it is to split up and meet for an aperitivo or dinner.

Have a great time!
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Old Nov 15th, 2021, 08:41 PM
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I've been to both Ferrari museums, although it has probably been 5+ years... My husband is a serious car nut, and I'm moderately interested in exotic cars.

Modena and Maranello are very different.

Modena... Enzo Ferrari started making cars in a carriage building that had been turned into an auto garage. It is/was adjacent to the family home which later became the Ferrari company offices, and you can walk through both buildings. The offices are presented as they were when EF was alive, and the garage displays included some very early Ferraris and engines. On the same property is a modern museum building with exhibits on the history of Italian motor racing, Ferrari in particular, and a few dozen Ferraris. The cars were immaculate and well presented with enough space for 360 views.

Maranello... The factory and Ferrari Museum are 20 kms. from Modena. The factory tour is a bus ride around the complex. No views of the assembly line or inside any building, no getting off the bus, no photos allowed. The buildings are a mix of old and new, somewhat interesting, architecture. At the end of the tour, we were given a glimpse of the test track and we did see a new car being driven out of the manufacturing area. I think that was random and not planned for the tour. The Ferrari Museum is nearby and focuses more on Ferrari Racing, Formula 1 and supercars. When we were there (October), the museum was overrun with tour groups arriving nearly non-stop in buses and mini-vans. The displays were cramped, and the museum understaffed for the number of visitors. People were actually touching the cars which is a total no-no, and no one stopped them. I think the only way you can drive on the test track is in your own Ferrari. When we visited, there were vendors in town that had Ferraris you could drive for a few minutes on the public streets. My car nut husband wasn't interested.

On that trip, we pre-booked a package offered by the museums that included entry tickets, the factory bus tour and transportation from the Modena train station to both museum sites and back to the train station. The Enzo Ferrari Museum in Modena is within walking distance of the train station.

I enjoyed the EF Museum in Modena a lot. I was disappointed in the Maranello portion of the day.

If you want a true/actual factory tour, look into Pagani in San Cesario Sul Panaro, also about 20 kms. from Modena. Read reviews on TripAdvisor.
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Old Nov 18th, 2021, 10:22 AM
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dreamon Thanks for the recommendations. I think overall, I'm trying to decide if we should explore Tuscany more or Emilia Romagna area or something else altogether. So many choices, so little time!! Right now, leaning towards ER for the food!
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Old Nov 18th, 2021, 10:24 AM
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Jean Thanks for the detailed review of the Ferrari Museums! Sounds like the Enzo F. in Modena may be the better of the two!
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Old Nov 18th, 2021, 12:42 PM
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lb17 - I think that you've got a really great trip in the making here, and well done for deciding to fly into Venice and out of Rome than going for a round trip because that immediately frees up an extra day. That said, I would suggest limiting yourself to three bases, because IME the more people you are trying to move around, the more time it takes. Also it will free up more time for excursions which is what I sense your family likes to do most, rather than spending a lot of time exploring one place.

To help pick the middle base between Venice and Rome I'd suggest thinking about the excursions you want to do most and then picking the place which gives you the best access to them. So if you really want to go to Siena and Pisa Florence is the obvious choice, whereas if it's Ravenna and Modena then it ought to be Bologna. Given the interests you've listed that would be my preference, and of course from there you can get to Florence easily as well. And I can definitely recommend the EF museum in Modena, as well as the city itself which I really liked.

The other aspect I would want to consider in July with teens in tow is whether you want to stay somewhere with a pool at least for part of the trip. That might influence where you want to stay.
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Old Nov 19th, 2021, 09:12 AM
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In my opinion if you hire a car everything will be much easier for you and you gonna be a little more flexible. You can just drive to Florence and decide there if you want to have base there or somewhere else. My family found Modena a bit boring but liked Florence a lot
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Old Nov 20th, 2021, 03:00 AM
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Originally Posted by amyst View Post
In my opinion if you hire a car everything will be much easier for you and you gonna be a little more flexible. You can just drive to Florence and decide there if you want to have base there or somewhere else. My family found Modena a bit boring but liked Florence a lot

Amyst - whilst it might have been possible to do what my DH and I did one summer about 40 years ago and drive into Florence, find an on street parking space AND a hotel room for a few days, I doubt very much if that's possible now, and I definitely wouldn't chance it with a party of 5!
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Old Nov 20th, 2021, 03:08 PM
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I like the idea of Bologna as a base for day trips; depending on how it is going and how everyone is faring, I would highly recommend Ravenna -- 40' by train from Bologna -- not only for the world heritage site mosaics, but as a town with a walkable ancient center that is mostly pedestrian/bikes only, with the great food of ER region, centuries of history, and with cafes with outdoor tables and complementary snacks with your spritz/wine. Great passagiata/people watching,

If you want Tuscany and decide to have a car, consider an agriturismo outside of Florence.
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Old Nov 20th, 2021, 07:15 PM
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Originally Posted by amyst;[url=tel:17306637
17306637[/url]]In my opinion if you hire a car everything will be much easier for you and you gonna be a little more flexible. You can just drive to Florence and decide there if you want to have base there or somewhere else. My family found Modena a bit boring but liked Florence a lot
Thanks for your response!
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Old Nov 20th, 2021, 07:21 PM
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Originally Posted by annw;[url=tel:17307001
17307001[/url]]I like the idea of Bologna as a base for day trips; depending on how it is going and how everyone is faring, I would highly recommend Ravenna -- 40' by train from Bologna -- not only for the world heritage site mosaics, but as a town with a walkable ancient center that is mostly pedestrian/bikes only, with the great food of ER region, centuries of history, and with cafes with outdoor tables and complementary snacks with your spritz/wine. Great passagiata/people watching,

If you want Tuscany and decide to have a car, consider an agriturismo outside of Florence.
Thanks for the recs. Ravenna sounds like it fits all of our likes! Have you been to San Marino? That is also one I am looking at. Also are there any cotton-candy coastal towns that would be suitable for a day trip? My son saw the cover of one my travel books about Italy that I believe was CT. He (13) said he wanted to go to a town like that and sit outside at sunset having a drink overlooking the ocean/sea! (the drink was a joke). But I also wouldn’t mind that.
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Old Nov 20th, 2021, 11:10 PM
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Cinque Terre are lovely towns, and hiking is popular--be wary about when you go there; they can get very crowded, especially in summer, with Italian as well as foreign tourists.

Yes, went to San Marino as well as Urbino (which I loved) over in Le Marche. I'd put SM lower on the list than the other places mentioned above, and definitely lower than Ravenna or CT.
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Old Nov 20th, 2021, 11:25 PM
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What would you drop if you included the Cinque Terre or San Marino? You can't fit in either without dropping somewhere else - and without coming home needing a holiday to get over the holiday.

btw what is a 'cotton-candy coastal town'? If thinking the Cinque Terre, I think life there was traditionally pretty tough, even though it may now look very scenic for tourists.
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Old Nov 21st, 2021, 06:25 AM
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July, you need access to a pool
You don't actually need access to a city, a smaller town with a station might do for your main base. It is just it's July so cities are hot and everyone says stay in a city. But you could find an agriturismo to stay in (normally in the countryside) but maybe near a town. look at agriturismo.it
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Old Nov 21st, 2021, 05:46 PM
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Originally Posted by dreamon;[url=tel:17307087
17307087[/url]]What would you drop if you included the Cinque Terre or San Marino? You can't fit in either without dropping somewhere else - and without coming home needing a holiday to get over the holiday.

btw what is a 'cotton-candy coastal town'? If thinking the Cinque Terre, I think life there was traditionally pretty tough, even though it may now look very scenic for tourists.
I am not necessarily looking to go to CT per say but if there was a costal town within an hour train from Bologna or Florence that had those beautiful colorful/picturesque houses or landscape, may consider that over a Parma/Siena/Ravenna day trip option. Or may trade Florence? Right now I am looking options for the middle potion of our trip and those will inform where we “base” and for how long. Right now strongly leaning towards Bologna base due to train accessibility and food and doing Ravenna and Modena day trip. May even stay there and do Florence as day trip too as it sounds like Florence has become frenetically crowded since the last time I was there. I like a good amount of buzz but do not want to spend time on top of people and constantly dodging the tourists that aren’t paying attention and stopping in the middle of doorways etc.
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Old Nov 21st, 2021, 06:22 PM
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Venice, Bologna, Florence and Rome are obviously all large towns/cities. Choosing somewhere smaller and greener instead of one of those destinations would be a good idea. But because you don't have a great deal of time, I suggest that you choose somewhere enroute between your other stops. Would a small town in a more rural location in, say, Tuscany or Umbria work for you?

All of the places you've chosen get a lot of visitors, especially Venice and Florence (Rome absorbs them better). If you'd prefer to avoid aimless wanderers, you could choose to stay in smaller places but thee ones you've chosen are busy for good reason. Visiting Florence for the day from Bologna might suit you very well (start early with breakfast in Florence and return after dinner). You may even wish to have just three stops: Venice (or somewhere nearby); Bologna or Parma (with day trips); and Rome. I think that's what I would do, with the time you have available and your wish list of activities. The fewer hotel stays, generally the more relaxing, and the more opportunity you'll have as a group to do the things that appeal to each of you. Don't spend too much time getting from A to B, when there is so much to enjoy closer by.
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Old Nov 21st, 2021, 06:24 PM
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"... but if there was a costal town within an hour train from Bologna or Florence that had those beautiful colorful/picturesque houses or landscape, may consider that over a Parma/Siena/Ravenna day trip option."

Both cities are too far from either coast.

"May even stay there and do Florence as day trip too..."

If budget is a consideration, you might want to search the train fare. Round-trip on the fast train x5 people will add up. Then there are museum entry tickets, etc. (And you should have made reservations for things before you arrive.)
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Old Nov 22nd, 2021, 08:21 AM
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Jean Thanks! Ok, we'll plan to stay inland. I know I'm a kid in a candy store and want to do it all. And if it were just me, I'd likely not sleep the whole trip and visit every town in all of Italy..however, with my family in tow, they wouldn't appreciate that. We'll definitely make reservations before we go.

dreamon yes, I'm leaning 3 stops as well so that we can probably get better accommodations for 5 (and maybe with a pool) with a longer stay. The pull of a Florence/Tuscany overnight is strong though so really trying to hone it in. Luckily I have about 8 months to get this planned!
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Old Dec 24th, 2021, 04:22 PM
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I'm honing in the itinerary and here is where it stands now. Please critique! Also, does anyone know how much time we need to allow for Venice to Modena section?

Day 1 Sun: Arrive Venice ~noon; sightsee and early night
Day 2 Mon: Venice

Day 3 Tues: Train to Modena; either Ferrari Museum(s) OR Lunch/Dinner at Osteria Francescana (depending on reservations)
Day 4 Wed: Ferrari Museum or Lunch at Osteria Francescana (depending on reservations) and then later train to Florence.
(Days 3 and 4 activities are vice/versa depending on what happens with reservations and train schedule)

Day 5 Thur: Florence (David)
Day 6 Fri: Florence
Day 7 Sat: Pisa
Day 8 Sun: Florence (maybe outskirts winery tour) or not
Day 9 Mon: Train to Rome

Day 10 Tues: Rome
Day 11 Wed: Rome
Day 12 Thur: Maybe day trip to Herculaneum or something
Day 13: Fri: Rome
Day 14: Sat: Depart

We removed Bologna/Ravenna and instead are opting for Pisa and extra day around Florence and Rome and reduce number of places we are moving. We think we need overnight in Modena to do both Ferrari museum and the restaurant or even if we don't get reservations, we can figure something else out and still get the good food of the E-R region. Is this better?
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Old Dec 24th, 2021, 05:42 PM
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I would find Day 3 a bit hectic if you get the lunch reservation that day. Unless you catch a very early train from Venice, you'd be lucky to be walking out of the Modena train station by 11:00 a.m. Timetables for July aren't posted yet, but currently the 6:40 a.m. train arrives at 10:00 a.m., and the 7:40 a.m. train arrives at 11:00 a.m. Italian trains schedules are fairly reliable, but if I had a hard to get restaurant reservation I'd feel compelled to catch the painfully early train to allow for a delay and to give time to drop the luggage at the hotel before lunch. Everyone feels different about their vacation, but a 6:40 a.m. train doesn't say vacation to me. It would still be somewhat hectic if you did both Ferrari museums on Day 3. The Enzo Ferrari Museum near the Modena train station is easy-peasy, but the corporate museum in Maranello is at least 30 minutes (by taxi) outside of Modena. Public trans would take about an hour each way.

You'll lose about half a day in transit from Modena to Florence, so when you make your reservations for the Accademia (David) pick a time in the mid to late afternoon.

I would plan out your sightseeing in Florence (check open days and hours for everything) before thinking about multiple excursions out of the city. There's a lot to see. FYI, if Pisa is for the Leaning Tower, you'll need to make timed reservations.
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